14 Unique Experiences to Expand Your Trip in Japan
After your visit to the traditional touristic destinations, you might want something new, something exclusively in Japan or something that you can only visit in a specific time of year. Here is a list of suggestions to pad your trip with unexpected experiences.
Oct 13 2015 (Apr 16 2019)
1. Walk on Drift Ice [Hokkaido]
The northeastern coast of Hokkaido is the southernmost point where you can see drifting ice during winter, normally from late January to early April. There are drifting ice-related tours by icebreaking ships or on foot. With walking tours, you might be swimming rather than walking when there is not much solid ice. Don’t worry even if the average temperature of the time is around -6 degrees in the area, because the tour offers you wet suits.
Address: 51 Utorohigashi,Shari-cho, Shari-gun, Hokkaido (Google Map)
2. Abashiri Prison Museum [Hokkaido]
Abashiri Prison was constructed in the 1890s and its old buildings are open to the public as a museum. The main feature of this museum is the faithfully depicted life of prisoners' illustrated with wax dolls. This prison was renowned as the hardest place to escape from and chronic prison escapers were sent from other prisons from around the country. There are quite a few interesting exhibitions to be enjoyed.
HP: www.kangoku.jp/hantai/ (中文)
Address: 1-1 Yobito Abashiri-shi Hokkaido (Google Map)
3. Drifting Snow Tour [Aomori]
The Tsugaru region in Aomori is well-known for drifting snow in winter time. The snowfall is so fierce that you often cannot see things 1 meter ahead of you. On this unique tour, you're dressed in the traditional winter clothes of the area including Japanese snowshoes made of bamboo or wood. This is a very unique and unforgettable experience of real local life.
Address: Kanagi-cho, Goshogawara-shi, Aomori (Google Map)
4. Osorezan - experience the afterlife [Aomori]Herry Lawford / Flickr
Osorezan, meaning "fear mountain" in Japanese, is said to be an entrance to the afterlife. People still believe that the dead gather around this area. It looks that way thanks to its topography. You can smell strong sulfur and see steam or hot water even though the land is barren since the area is rich in volcanic activity. This area symbolizes hell. If you reach Lake Usor, next to the temple, the dreary landscape turns heavenly because of its clear blue water due to its high sulfur content. Here you can experience the afterlife that Japanese people believe in.
HP: www.mutsu-kanko.jp/guide/miru_01.html (Japanese Only)
5. Kamakura - Snow House [Akita]極地狐/Flickr
A kamakura is a snow hut made in the northern areas of Japan where they boast huge amounts of snowfall. It was originally made to offer prayers to the water god inside, and now kamakura festivals are popular events among tourists. You can dine in a kamakura, as the interior of snow hut is warm and warm dishes like hot-pots are served. The Kamakura festival in Yokote, Yamagata is one of the popular kamakura festivals.
Address: Yokote-shi, Akita (Google Map)
6. Dewa Sanzan Shrine - a power spot [Yamagata]
Dewa Sanzan is the collective name of three sacred mountains in Yamagata. The pilgrimage route across these mountains has over 1400 years of history. Yamabushi, practitioners of the pilgrimage, perform the practice for seven days to transcend the physical world. Even if you don’t perform the whole pilgrimage, going up the 2446 steps in the cedar tree forest will give you some mysterious power as this area is said to be a strong power spot.
HP: www.dewasanzan.jp (Japanese Only)
Address: 7 Toge, Haguro-machi Toge, Tsuruoka-shi, Yamagata (Google Map)
7. Michinoku Park [Miyagi]yasumin001/Flickr
About one hour from both Sendai and Yamagata, this huge park offers a lot for family with kids. A stroll in the beautiful 7,000 square meter flower garden is wonderful. The kids' area is a good place to play with your children. The visit to 9 old houses is enlightening as they were collected from 6 different prefectures in the Tohoku region and display local cultures. It’s a nice break during your trip in such a historical region.
HP: www.michinoku-park.info/china/ (中文)
Address: Kawasaki-machi Ono, Shibata-gun, Miyagi (Google Map)
8. Nikko Edomura - [Tochigi]PROHidetsugu Tonomura/Flickr
This is a history theme park in Nikko recreating the life in Edo (Tokyo) during the Edo Period (1603-1868). Buildings built in Edo-style line the city and passersby costumed in the Edo-style behave as if they are in the period. You can feel like you were back in the town of Edo, especially if you get dressed in kimono.
HP: edowonderland.net/zh-tw/ (中文)
9. Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route [Nagano & Toyama]
This route crosses the scenic area of the Northern Japan Alps from Nagano to Toyama by a combination of trolley buses, gondola, cable cars, and buses. The snowy road with magnificent snow walls over 20 meters high is a popular tourist attraction where pedestrians can walk from mid-April to mid-June. This route running through a mountainous area offers wonderful landscapes in summer and autumn as well. The route is closed from December to mid-April.
HP: www.alpen-route.com/en/ (中文)
10. The Metropolitan Area Outer Underground Discharge Channel [Saitama]
This gigantic architecture is the world-largest underground channel located in the eastern part of Saitama, north of Tokyo. Overflown water from rivers in the area flow into this discharge channel to protect metropolitan area against floodwaters. They offer guided tours when it’s not used. They are used mainly against heavy rains in the rainy season or rainfall caused by typhoons. It’s not something you can expect to see often.
Address: 720 Kamikanasaki, Kasukabe-shi, Saitama (Google Map)
11. Site of Reversible Destiny in Yoro Park [Gifu]
This rather weird place is designed by a group of artists, architects, and poets and has been described as an “experience park conceived with the theme of encountering the unexpected.” Difficult philosophy aside, it’s pure fun to experience unexpected experiences. Here you can forget about common sense, gravity, or equilibrium.
HP: www.yoro-park.com/facility-map/hantenchi/ (Japanese Only)
Address: 1298-1 Takabayashi, Yoro-cho, Yoro-gun, Gifu (Google Map)
12. Suzuka Circuit & Amusement Park [Mie]
If you love motor sports, this place should be on your place-to-visit list. The Suzuka circuit in Mie prefecture is a full-fledged racing course which hosts a number of motor races including the F1 Grand Prix. As well as motor races, you can enjoy riding and driving in the amusement park attached to the site. Twin Ring Motegi is also a place to visit for enthusiasts.
HP: www.suzukacircuit.jp/tw/ (中文)
Address: 7992 Inoh-cho, Suzuka-shi, Mie (Google Map)
13. Visit the Rabbit Island [Hiroshima]
The Ohkuno Island in Hiroshima is better known as ‘the land of rabbits’. Hundreds of feral rabbits live in this small island. They reportedly are offspring of 8 rabbits kept in a local school around 1971. They are rather tame and will come close to you. Why don’t you come to see those cute rabbits?
HP: www.qkamura.or.jp/ohkuno/ (Japanese Only)
Address: Tadanoumi-cho, Takehara-shi, Hiroshima (Google Map)
14. Camel Riding on Sand Dunes [Tottori]
The Tottori Sand Dunes, the largest sand dunes in Japan, is the most popular tourist destination in Tottori prefecture. They spread about 16km along the Sea of Japan and can reach 40 meters tall. It’s fun to walk around or slide down the dunes but there is also another option. You can ride on camels here! It would definitely make a photogenic scene of your trip.
HP: rakudaya.info (Japanese Only)
Address: 2164-449 Fukube-cho Yuyama, Tottori-shi, Tottori (Google Map)
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The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.